On September 19, 2023, a panel of leading experts discussed the work accomplished thus far and work that is underway to ensure effective and fair implementation of the charter reforms approved by voters last November. Panelists:
Melanie Billings-Yun, Charter Review Commissioner, 2020-22 (Moderator)
Shoshanah Oppenheim, Charter Transition Project Manager
Marcus Mundy, Executive Director, Coalition of Communities of Color
Leah Benson, Co-Chair, Government Transition Advisory Committee (GTAC)
Alex Zielinski, Reporter, Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB)
Click on the arrow to view the video recording of the program:
It is time to make Portland’s government more responsive, representative and effective.
At its June 29 meeting, the LWVPDX board voted to endorse the Portland Charter Commission’s proposed amendments to the City Charter. After in-depth studies of Portland’s government and of alternative voting methods, LWVPDX concluded that the proposed amendments will substantially improve our city government. The amendments will be included in a ballot measure for the November 8, 2022, General Election.
The main charter reform proposals are to:
Elect candidates using ranked choice voting.
Increase the size of the City Council to 12 members, electing three members each from four new geographic districts.
Establish City Council as a legislative body, without its current administrative responsibilities.
Elect the Mayor citywide to run day-to-day operations along with a professional City Administrator.
Why approve these changes?
Proportional ranked choice voting can allow voters to elect a more representative council. A significant majority of voters will be able to elect city councilors who represent their interests and concerns.
District elections with proportional ranked choice voting give Portlanders the power to elect a City Council that reflects the population they serve.
A larger City Council will be more responsive to our growing city population. Our population is more than 3 times larger than it was when the current 4-member council (plus the mayor) was established.
A legislative city council without administrative responsibilities can devote more time to setting policies and responding to constituent concerns.
Delegating the administrative duties to the Mayor and a professional City Administrator provides more effective management of bureaus.
Separating the legislative and administrative functions of government allows more accountability. The public knows who is responsible for policy-making, appropriations, and spending.
Learn more about the Charter Commission and LWVPDX’s advocacy with the Commission here. In the next few months, look for more information about how these changes would benefit Portland.
LWV and Advocacy
As a non-profit organization, LWVPDX balances advocacy and voter information. LWVPDX’s advocacy arm can endorse a campaign or advocate on an issue. LWVPDX’s voter services provide balanced, objective informational resources about all sides of a campaign. Across all its work, LWV is nonpartisan and will never support or oppose a candidate or party.
Look for voting information on Vote411.org and on this website. The League is preparing to help you choose Portland’s next City Commissioner for Position 2. Two candidates, Dan Ryan and Loretta Smith, are running to fill this vacant seat. To help you compare them, we held a debate. You will find the video of the debate posted on Vote411.org OR click here for our August 11 Special Election page under Vote. In addition, both websites will show the candidates’ written answers to six questions about current city issues. The video and candidates’ answers are available on demand from July 22 through Election Day.
Vote July 23 through Election Day, Tuesday, August 11.
Ballots were mailed to Portland voters beginning on Wednesday July 22. To vote in this special election, voters must register by July 21. The last day to mail your ballot is Thursday, August 6. However, you can drop your ballot off at an official drop site up until 8 pm on August 11.
The Board of Directors of the Portland League has approved a new – and dramatically different – advocacy position on Portland’s City Government.
The position is the result of a thorough two-year study of Portland’s government, which led to the report shown at the left. After publishing this report, the study committee presented a panel discussion. Then, groups of League members discussed the findings and agreed upon key changes needed for Portland’s government.
The League’s new City Government position calls for major improvements in the government’s structure and also in the way voters elect the City Councilors. Here are some of our recommendations, which we will use during the City Charter Review process in 2021:
improve citizen representation by increasing the number of commissioners
institute a city manager
establish the City Council as a legislative or policy-setting body
Portland League members voted to conduct this two-year restudy of city government in May 2017. Members realized that Portland’s voters needed more up-to-date and complete information to decide on possible changes to the City Charter.
The restudy looks closely at many parts of our current government. It examines strengths and weaknesses of the government’s structure and then explores different options for changing it. The goal is to provide useful ideas for how to improve the government so it serves the people of Portland as well as possible.